Virtual reality adoption during the COVID-19 pandemic: A uses and gratifications perspective

Christopher Ball, Kuo-Ting Huang, Jess Francis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has impacted all aspects of people's lives, including how we work, play, learn, exercise, and socialize. Virtual reality (VR) technology has the potential to mitigate many of the challenges brought about by the pandemic, which has spurred increased adoption. However, relatively low adoption overall and limited software still restrict the power of VR to address COVID-19 difficulties effectively. This study examines how the perceived impacts of COVID-19 might lead to different VR uses and gratifications and device ownership / variability. Furthermore, we investigate the importance of social interactivity within VR for increasing adoption intentions. We surveyed 298 Amazon Mechanical Turk users during the Fall of 2020. Results indicate that the pandemic's perceived impacts influenced the likelihood of acquiring VR for education, tourism, and work. For VR ownership and variability, those who purchased VR during the pandemic were more likely to report buying it for work. Those with access to high-end VR hardware were more likely to report a broader range of uses, including socializing, health, and telemedicine. Validating the importance of various applications during the pandemic, we found that the desire for social interactivity mediates the impacts of COVID-19 on future adoption intentions. Theoretically, we propose several gratifications sought via the use of VR during the pandemic. Practically, we discuss recommendations for future VR research, marketing, and software design.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101728
JournalTelematics and Informatics
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Virtual reality
  • Pandemic
  • COVID-19
  • Uses and gratifications theory
  • VR


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